"Jim's a tough guy and you can see his personality is all over this football team," Fitzgerald said.
[What is this? Joe Pichey, serious bbq-ing dude, has been writing up tailgating recipes on his blog MMMGoBluBBQ and we "borrowed" him. Stubb's sponsored it because they're fans of the site and good people, and this whole Joe-MGoBlog-Stubb's-Readers thing seems like a match of destiny. Who's got it better than us?]
I think the Harbaugh Hype train is gaining a little momentum and rumor has it, it's fueled by Bacon Jam. Maryland has brought in a little hurricane hoping to slow us down, but didn't realize we are fueled by BACON JAM and DARK BEER. This condiment is extremely easy to make and can be spread on almost anything. I've loved it on brats, biscuits, hamburgers, waffles, chicken sandwiches, breakfast tacos, grilled cheese and on and on and ......... This is sweet, salty, spicy and spreadable. You can also finish this in the crock pot and keep it warm all game as your guests dig in.
- 1.5 lbs Bacon
- 1 medium yellow onion and 1 red onion (Diced)
- 3 garlic cloves (Minced)
- 1/3 cup Apple Cider vinegar
- 3 TBS Maple Syrup (Use the good stuff)
- 1/2 cup Dark Brown Sugar
- 8 oz Dark Ale Style Beer
- 2 TBS Stubbs BBQ Seasoning
- Cayenne pepper (optional)
[After the jump: due to the likelihood of bacon coma you probably should be warned not to operate heavy machinery or an FBS offense after consuming this, unless you actually do have an enthusiasm unknown to mankind.]
Where has the line improved from the first week?
“Oh, they’re getting better, you know. Really building a good brotherhood amongst each other, great communication, playing with better pad level, really paying attention to details of what we’re trying to teach them. So, it’s exciting.”
What about that forecast? Do you prepare differntly for heavy rain? Do you do drills?
“No, not really. I mean, you always take it into consideration. Everybody has the wet ball drill and different things like that like everybody practices. We’re keeping our eye on that, but you just plan. You don’t change your gameplan. You just go with your gameplan that you originally wanted to and stay with it. I’ve been in situations where you change everything because of the weather and it really messes with your mindset.”
Jay says you guys are a weatherproof team for the most part-
“Who said that?”
Jay said you were a weatherproof team for the most part. What does that- do you agree with that?
“What, weatherproof? Yeah, absolutely. Whatever Jay Harbaugh says, that’s what I agree with. Oh yeah, absolutely.”
Is that a testament to your versatility?
“I just think that what we do offensively, it’s- we can spread out, we can bring it in tight, we can throw the ball deep, we can throw it intermediate, we can run the toss play. We’ve got a lot of different things. We’re not one-dimensional, so we can adapt and change quickly for what people are giving us.”
Was it significant to have the BYU game when you did? A turnover-free, kind of smoothed out offensive game?
“Uh, it was positive. I think it’s something that you build on, and that’s what you want to be, turnover free. Absolutely. That’s what you’re striving every week to be, so that was good. Really good.”
[The rest after THE JUMP]
You’ve got to be pretty pleased with the play of your group through four games.
“Yeah, definitely really pleased. Lot of room for improvement still, but we’ve made a lot of plays and are gradually improving week to week in terms of technique and everything.”
After one week it looked like Jake was going to be kind of the focus of your group; he caught eight balls, and now you guys are spreading it around. Which is more desirable, to have a lot of different guys or one that you know will [inaudible, but they’re insinuating a go-to guy]?
“More desirable would be to have more guys that you know you can trust, so I think we’re working towards that. Spreading it around is good. I think being able to get a bunch of guys on the field and not have anyone know who you’re throwing the ball to or whether it’s run or pass is a good thing, so we like having more guys involved.”
A lot’s been made of the wide receivers’ blocking. How do you like your group in terms of that?
“Yeah, we’re doing a nice job. The receivers are setting the bar really high, though, in terms of their effort through the end of plays and second-effort blocks, cut blocks, so they’re giving the rest of the offensive players something to strive for and putting really impressive stuff on tape.”
Khalid [Hill] was saying after the game that that was sort of an important moment for him to actually get involved in the offense again. Have you seen sort of a difference in him over the last few weeks, and even now with sort of a confidence boost from that?
“I don’t think a difference necessarily in him. I know obviously he was excited, and then the group’s excited for him to get a few touches and to have his number called but he’s been working hard. I don’t think he’s approached anything differently.”
[After THE JUMP: Hopefully the MARS game is more fun than the MOON game]
Upon Further Review has not yet lost its sponsor.
While you are not wearing pants you can just call Matt at Homesure Lending. You'll have his number. So if you are unsure about something or need something you can just call him up. Probably don't mention the pants, because that's weird.
FORMATION NOTES: Hello dime package. Michigan spent most of the day in it. This was probably the most common setup:
30 dime slide
Michigan has three guys in a three-point stance along the line with Ojemudia flanking them as a standup end; behind are Desmond Morgan and Jabrill Peppers. Most of the time Peppers went into coverage and left the front five to win one on one matchups, which they almost universally did.
The other very common formation was one that's pretty similar but again has the "buck" lined up just off the nose tackle.
Michigan would insert Ojemudia or RJS at various places along the line.
I called formations on which Michigan was clearly going into man coverage with another player while Peppers was added to the box "nickel 3-4."
Yes, those are two actual LBs. When BYU added their fullback Bolden would come in.
This with nobody backing the line on the snap was "5-0 dime":
I think that about covers it. Oh: I didn't get a shot but that first snap I dubbed "3-1-7" because Ojemudia is over the slot and there are legit 4 people in the box. About which more later.
PERSONNEL NOTES: Michigan spent almost the whole game in a dime package featuring all three corners plus Peppers, Hill, and Wilson. Morgan played the entire game except for the final drive; the DL rotation was the usual eight guys in the usual doses. If you ask me the starting lineup now includes Matt Godin instead of Willie Henry but that's a fine distinction.
Bolden got the few bonus LB snaps. These all came when BYU added an H-back to the equation. Ross was healthy after all: he got in at the end of the game.
[After THE JUMP: hhhyarrrrr it had eleven mouths and no bottom]
So, my dear Harbaugh doubters and Maryland player drafters, how have your expectations changed for this year?
David: Starting last New Year's Day, I think I backed the idea that M was going to go 8-4 with a probable ceiling of 10-2. As M landed RuDock and Brian UFRed most of his 2014 games -and, admittedly, the Drake Harris hype train hit full steam ahead- I was getting confident in 9-3. Harris hasn't hit it big, yet, and RuDock is still coming along. But that defense looks, no, IS...really frickin' good, man. I thought they would be better than the past few years, but they could be the best M has had in quite a while. I wasn't too discouraged after Utah, but said to my buddy, as we walked away from the game, that I thought BYU would be the big measuring stick to tell us how we'd developed over the next month. I'm going to say that Michigan passed.
The rest of the league? Maybe not so much. Teams with good coaches grow and get better. And that could happen in a couple of places but not that many. Let's see some consistency out of the Penn State OL and Minnesota's offense. Brian mentioned that the Michigan State game looks a lot more tractable and I have to agree. It seems like it might finally be a more even game that its been over the last couple of years, obviously. With Michigan State's line of injuries over the past few weeks and some of their performances looking a tad spotty, despite playing lower level opponents, I am actually starting to like this matchup for Michigan. The Ohio State game? I feel better about it than I did a month ago, but if Ohio State executes to their highest ability, I'm not sure any other team in the country beats them. Obviously, that is a throw-out-the-records Game and just about anything can happen, but those are the types of things that are impossible to predict. If both teams play their best, I think Michigan still gets edged out. Ok, it's official. I have talked myself up to being confident in 9-3 and maybe even a little disappointed in not going 10-2*.
*obligatory mention barring major injuries to very key players: RuDock, G. Glasgow, Butt, Lewis, Peppers.
[after the jump: we jump but maybe not as high as Amara the American]
Note: Jabrill was on his way from class and missed the time they do the two-player panels, so we got extra time with him in a scrum. I jumped in mid-answer here.
“…in terms of punt returning, we’re almost on the brink of taking one back. Just minor corrections and me making full-speed decisions and trusting the blocks and the way it sets up. I think I’m right on the brink of breaking one.”
Your thoughts on how the secondary’s coming together right now after four games?
“You know, it all starts with the coaches. They do a great job of gameplan and coming up with schemes that best fit us and our best attributes and they put us in the right positions to make plays and it’s been working so far. It’s just all in the schematics.”
Talk about the coaches as technicians. What have you learned technically from them?
“It’s almost too much to name in terms of techniques and different things they teach us, different pointers what to watch in terms of route recognition, formation recognition, what they like to do out of said personnel or said formations so it all helps us out there on the field. We rep it so much in practice it just becomes second nature.
“In the games it actually slows down because we were prepared for tempo. In practice we kind of killed ourselves all week thinking they were going to go tempo, and if they did I didn’t notice it. You know, it definitely all starts with the preparation.”
How comfortable do you feel in this hybrid role that you’re playing?
“It’s…I’m always comfortable with the guys around me. They do a great job of preparing and helping me. I just do whatever I’m asked to do. You know, put the time in the film room, put the time in the playbook, learn the position as if I played it all year and just try to go out and compete each and every day.”
What do you like about the position that you’re playing and what you can do every week?
“I just like how I’m around the ball a lot. They put me in spots where I can excel, and then it’s up to me to play. That’s how I look at it. They can’t go out there and play for us, so they put us in the right spots at the right moments. Coach Durkin does a great job with knowing the personnel and what they like to do on each down and what’s their tendencies and while I’m out there I remember that. I can kind of get a jump on a route or get a jump on what play or what kind of run I expect them to run, so it just all goes back to schematics.”
[After THE JUMP: The best way to talk trash it to let your pads do it for you]